By Heather Fabritze
Student Life Editor
As the first semester progresses, Washington College hosted multiple events introducing the return to regular film screenings on campus.
The first, held on Thursday, Sept. 15, was the premiere movie of the WC Film Series presented by the Communications and Media Studies Program. The original film series ended roughly 10 years ago and WC’s Communications and Media Studies department made plans to restart it last spring.
Classic 1980s college comedy “Real Genius” was the department’s first pick for the film series this year, which started at 7 p.m. in the Norman James Theatre.
There are currently plans to screen a different movie every third Thursday of the month.
According to an email from Assistant Professor and Program Director of CMS Dr. Meghan Grosse to the student body on Monday, Sept. 12, “these films will come from a range of genres and time periods.”
Each movie is preceded by introductions by various professors or guests. Certain screenings will also have post-discussions depending on the film.
The theme for the first movie screening was “the college experience” and according to Dr. Grosse, the CMS department found it difficult to find a college movie that did not perpetuate ideals that went against WC’s values – notably sexism, racism, and the perpetuation of rape culture.
“I think film is a way that has always been this kind of platform around which we can have these kinds of shared conversations,” Dr. Grosse said. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy or a drama, there’s these kinds of shared ideas that we can all think about together.”
The second screening on Friday, Sept. 23, “The Road to Galena,” shared the same idea of community viewing. Director Joe Hall’s 2022 drama was filmed on campus and in Chestertown during 2020, and was screened in the Alonzo G. and Virginia Gent Decker Theatre at 7 p.m.
According to Hall, the movie follows the story of attorney Cole Baird who is looking to find his place in the world out in the country in the small town of Galena.
While Galena, Maryland is a real town roughly 20 minutes from Chestertown, the fictional Galena seen in the movie is not based off of its real-life variant.
“I think it represents the beauty of the Eastern Shore,” Hall said. “It’s not really about the town of Galena. Galena is a mythical concept. But it captures just the raw beauty of the area and I think I hope it captures the sort of the compelling community that’s out here.”
“The Road to Galena” was filmed at multiple locations around campus, including Clifton M. Miller Library, the Cater Walk, the campus green, Schottland Tennis Center, and Norman James Theatre. The Kitchen at the Imperial restaurant and High Street in Chestertown also appear in the movie.
Hall sees parts of his own journey – going from a career as a banker to following his passion as a director on what was basically a whim – in the film and believes that its themes can be relatable to anyone.
“I’d like to believe that everyone can see a little bit of themselves…for me, this movie is my Galena, right?” Hall said. “It is the thing that drives me, is to create this artwork. Because I do have another life and banking and all the other things that occupy me. But for me, that opportunity to be able to pursue my passion was expressed through [the] creation of the movie.”
The relatability of the film was felt in other fields, as well, with “The Road to Galena”winning best director and cinematographer at the Montreal Independent Film Festival and best director and grand prix, the highest award possible, at the Prague Independent Film Festival.
“The Road to Galena”is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
The WC Film Series will also be continuing next month, with “Yuli” screening on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in Norman James Theatre.
Poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo Caption: In “Road to Galena,” director Joe Hall modeled the main character’s indecision after his own life experiences.